The Big Themes and Trends from EventTech 2017

As our community of event and experiential marketers rallied in Las Vegas, these are the strategies, designs, and technologies we explored.

The 2017 edition of Event Marketer’s annual event technology conference is now a wrap. As we’ve seen over the years, EventTech is — and remains — the rallying point for our community of brands, agencies, and technology providers. It’s where we come together to reflect on case studies, get hands-on with demos, and explore future-facing trends.

During this most recent conference, the stalwarts topics have remained in focus. We continue to see sessions celebrate successes and share learnings around the realization of event data, the actualization of AR and VR, the expanding integration of social media, and the evolving flavors of video and photo booths. Plus, the assortment of underpinning technologies (e.g., beacons and event apps) that bring these executions to life.

While Drones were notably creeping into all types of events (e.g., drone racing, drone shows, drone walls) and legal concerns came to light (e.g., user privacy, data security), our interpretation of the biggest themes driving the conference were tied to the following strategies, showcases, and experiments.

The Big Strategic Themes

1. Activated Spaces Become Community Hubs

From B2B to B2C alike, the conference showcased how brands would activate their spaces with a mixture of pure technology experiences (e.g., Audible’s Comic-Con activation), hybrid digital/analog experience (e.g., Stryker’s launch of the Mako Knee System at AAOS), and analog-centric experiences that shun technology (e.g., Dell EMC World’s dog-centric activation). These experiences were created to embrace playification, help treat breakout fatigue, and expand community connections.

2. Picking the Right Technologies for Your Event

With a rapidly growing landscape of event and experiential marketing technology vendors, it is more complex than ever to select, implement, and integrate the plethora of technologies that can be utilized for a modern attendee journey. During the conference, a range of conversations and sessions looked to provide guides and frameworks for making these selections.

3. Experience Design Gets More Technical

The conference showcased how experience design has become more influenced and embedded with technology. On one end of the spectrum, we saw how big brands, such as Cisco, were using data to create highly-personalized experiences for attendees. On the other end of the spectrum, we saw how audience-driven design encourages personal investment and participatory imprinting by the attendees.

The Big Stage Developments

This year, more so than in the past few years, we have seen a return to Big Technology for Big Stages.

On the screen side, big LED walls were everywhere. Brands are using them in stunning ways. And technology companies are developing new solutions to address the challenges of today’s LED walls. For example, World Stage has designed new 5mm LED tiles that are three times larger than today’s standard tiles, which makes it faster and easier to build the wall. Plus, their new tiles are made of carbon fiber, which makes them lighter, easier to install, and easier to rig.

Additionally, the conference put a focus on advancements and R&D happening in the realms of kinetic (or real-time) projection mapping, laser projection, and transparent LEDs.

The Big Focus on What’s Next

Finally, the big driving wind throughout EventTech 2017 were the discussions and interest about what’s next.

The continued convergence of digital and physical — technology and analogue — has brands exploring new types of experiences (e.g., Acura’s experiment with brainwear). The presentation that received the most questions and post-presentation interest was by Rose Gold Collective and their work with Refine AI to use machine learning to measure the demographics and emotions of an event’s audience.

And, as always, we had a blast preparing and presenting our EventTech talk on the top 15 trends to watch for in the following year. (It was a presentation so nice, we were asked to give it twice.)

The next edition of EventTech has been announced for November 2018. We look forward to rejoining our friends across the event and experiential marketing community for the next informative and inspirational event.

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Brent is a member of the executive team for Opus Agency, partner to world-shaping brands.
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